Friday, July 8, 2011


Quietly wowing the folk and singer-songwriter world nationally, especially the new, young acoustic fans, MacLellan's dropped the big one here.  It's all come together for her, starting with a set of word-perfect songs.  You could examine every lyric here, and grab great quotes, lines to make you smile, melt, nod in agreement, or wonder.  This is an album of personal intensity, someone getting in touch with heartbreak and desire and past baggage, and you'll find one of more situations you know very, very well.  There are songs where you'll think 'that's exactly how I feel', and read your own situation into it, probably forever.  She sings of past loves coming back to haunt new ones:  "They send their regards/With every brand new start/I think of love dead and gone".

Too intense, or mellow for you?  Actually you can groove along to much of the disc, with its often upbeat acoustic sound.  MacLellan's teamed up with a perfect co-producer, Toronto vet David Baxter, who brings his strong knowledge of what these instruments can do for the songs, the moods and moments that can be added, the subtle touches and timing that make it all so sweet.  Of course, MacLellan's own voice is so well matched to her material, sad but solid, sweet at times, laconic and dreamy at other paces.  Joining her on this album is Baxter's cohort, young Toronto singer Jadea Kelly, matching MacLellan in near-sibling harmonies.

Dropped into this rock-solid collection is the touching remake of her late father's classic, Snowbird.  In concert for the past couple of years, MacLellan's been reclaiming the family business, returning the radio middle-of-the-road staple to its simplicity.  Nothing against Anne Murray of course, the song just took on a reputation over the years.  Now, in this gentle version with can focus on the lyrics Gene MacLellan crafted, and what drew everyone from Murray to Elvis to the song in the first place.  When Jim Cuddy shows up to sing the harmony on it, well, we have an event.  Somehow Catherine manages to keep it classy and without a whiff of calculation on her part.  It is what it is, a tribute to her father, and a great song, from a superb album.

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